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2008 Azlan Shah Cup
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About 200 New Fans for Field Hockey (4/24/2008)
--K. Arumugam
When we came to know an Indian hockey team is here, we decided to go and back up them. But we are absolutely clueless about hockey, what we all know is bit of cricket. Once after seeing a couple of matches, we have been attracted to this game. Our girls are really very good, make beautiful moves and won our hearts. Whenever we get another chance, we would love to watch hockey.

This what a couple of Indian students here in Kazan said. When they first came to know an Indian team comes to this place, they first could not believe. We are here almost five years, never heard of an Indian team to this city” said one.

Then they thought it must be ice hockey team because world Under 18 ice hockey championship is going on in Kazan. So, some of those students went to a stadium purchased 150 rouble worth ticket only to know there is no Indian team there.

A moments later and a google search after they could make out they landed up in wrong stadium and the Indian girls are there in another corner and that they were told this hockey is played on grass.

There are bout 300 Indian students from almost all parts of India here studying medicine in different years.

We all could persuade our Head of the Department to postpone some classes so that we could see all the matches here. Normally such things are not possible, but when they found every one of us were particular, they relented, said one.

So from day one here in the Dinamo society’s Field Hockey Centre, about 200 students come with flags and egg the girls endlessly. They line up uniformly on the side fence, making it convenient to have a close look, never sit for the entire match and keep on shouting India, India.

They were certainly disappointed with the results, but some of them kept on telling me, India delighted them whatever the results.

They want to snap photos with these girls, take autographs and talk to them, but somehow an official with the team is thoroughly unprofessional and kept the girls at arms distance, and for what, god only knows.

One of them said: “My father was a hockey player in his youth, and twice took a local team to Beijing and Singapore, but those days were long ago when I was too young to understand anything”.

These boys promised they will herein after follow hockey through web world both men and women.

They are immediately upto the assignment, and next day everyone was talking about IHF Secretary General’s cash for cap scam.

A group of students then made it to the team hotel and could luckily talk to a couple of players also.

Normally all over the globe, you see Non Resident Indians flocking the hockey stadium, and widely traveled journalists it has been a regular feature. IN the last world cup at Germany, team camps played Indian songs and there was a mad rush there in the evenings.

It is not even remotely in the mind that there will be so much Indian support here in Kazan.

The beauty here is there are hardly one hundred people watching the matches, and the crowd triples for Indian matches. And, whenever India made moves and made a good interception or pass, their sounds reverberate the stands, even audible at the media centre, which is very inconveniently located on the other side of the stands.

On day three after the India-Belgium match, a couple of Russian officials came and requested them to stay further and support their team that was to play against Netherlands Antilles, which they cannot disobey.

How much money these players get, where are they come from, how young is the captain, what is captain’s role, why our players are so thin, don’t we have strong girls, why we play well but still lose to dull teams, how many coaches we have, and their querries that go endlessly.

Even a Pakistani girl accompanied these boys asked, how many sessions are in the game, and expressed surprise when told there is a muslim girl in the team.

The biggest surprise for them is—which they even refuse to accept- is the girls thought below 20 -- Mamta Kharab -- is a Deputy Superintendent of Police, and another surprise is India are second seeded in the tournament.

India might not have won many matches here in Kazan, but the energetic team has brought about 200 new persons to the hockey’s fold.

And as someone said, they are never going to forget the week in their lifetime, because they got to hear the national anthem first time in five years, and the girls are exciting on the field.

"Honestly speaking, we never thought they will be so wonderful on the field".

A day later, when three enthusiastic of students (Kiran, Koustuba, Shinde) happen to meet some hockey girls at Korston Hotel, they were overwhelmed with emotions when the gilrs said "Sorry we have disappointed you all".

"They are so graceful", said them in unison while returning after a brief chat with them.

s2h snapped them while in discussion, that photo can now be sold for a million dollar!

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